Martha Argerich Plays Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concetro No. 3

Mind-boggling in its difficulty, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concertos, are considered by many pianists to be some of the most challenging works to play, let alone master.  Watch the video and you can see that the third Concerto demands an athletic ability from the performer.  To maintain so much speed in your fingertips for so long must be a rather masochistic experience.  I certainly think the work provokes a kind of pleasing discomfort in a live audience watching the musicians struggle to keep up with the notes on the page.  And struggle they do – even a world class performer like the famed, Argentinian artist, Martha Argerich, has to work to pull it off.  She succeeds, and epically so, but what effort!  The second half, below,  is even faster than the first.

X-Shaped Bench in Brown Linen

X-Shaped Bench

Incredibly, this striking bench was made in the United States in the 1970s – not really a golden age for American design, but I suppose there is an exception to every rule.  The new upholstery has certainly breathed new life into this piece, and the white buttons really pop against the brown cushion, giving it some depth and a bright and  airy sensibility.  Available at Michel Contessa in Miami.

Carved Wooden Chair From Chiavari, Italy

Carved Wood Chiavari Chair

Where to start with this chair, there’s so much to like about it!  The finely turned and seductively thin wood, the distinctive elongated height, the mathematical precision at the top of the chair, it’s all quite enchanting.  The patina is also wonderful and while the dealer is upfront that the seat has been reupholstered, I think they’ve chosen the perfect color to accentuate the wood and overall unique look of the piece.  Lastly, it’s an absolute steal – would you believe only $850?  I’m almost hesitant to share the source, but against my better judgment, here you are. Available at Lawson-Fenning in Los Angeles.

Elijah Mayer Black Basalt Porcelain Coffee Pot

Elijah Mayer Basalt Coffee Pot

While not as famous as Josiah Wedgwood, Elijah Mayer porcelain was among the best produced in the late 18th Century in England.  His particular specialty was so-called basalt or Egyptian black porcelain, and this coffee pot is a striking example.  The carved relief striping is what I really like about this piece, but the spout is also interesting to me.  It almost looks Art Nouveau in style because of the sharp, angular shape juxtaposed with the curly leaves at the base.  Available at Leo Kaplan in New York.

Pair of French Table Lamps by Maison Jansen

French Table Lamps Maison Jarden

Few design houses can compete with the reputation of the legendary Maison Jansen.  For the century they were in business, this firm set the look for royal palaces and government residences, most notably the White House during the JFK administration.  Even more incredible is that they had a global business at the turn of the 20th century, with projects across Europe, the Middle East, South America, and elsewhere, way before international travel was the common practice we think of today.  What it must have been like to work for such a company! Available through Caira Mandaglio in London.

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